By Dominique Tassell
A motion to renew the Stanthorpe Sports Association’s lease has passed at today’s Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) meeting.
Councillor Stephen Tancred left the room for the motion, as was earlier decided today in the meeting.
SDRC was required to choose from several options for the lease going forward.
Initially, Councillors were to choose from various options detailed in the agenda.
Councillor Andrew Gale put forward a motion to amend the lease from five years to two five year terms.
The lease also includes annual rent of $3360 plus GST and CPI increase, and a requirement for all SSA affiliated clubs to hold free monthly ‘come and try’ events targeted at youth to encourage participation and showcase the sports associated with the facility.
All costs associated with these events are to be at the expense of the SSA and documented proof of the events held will need to be provided to SDRC on an annual basis or as requested by SDRC.
The motion was carried, with a division.
Councillors Gale, Gow, Bartley, and the Mayor voted for the motion, with Councillors McNally, McDonald, Gliori, and Windle against.
Debate on the overall motion was extensive.
Councillor Cynthia McDonald asked how many organisations have special clauses in their lease.
A staff member said he would have to take this on notice.
Councillor McNally stated she would like to speak against Councillor Stephen Tancred’s letter to the editor, which she said did not represent correctly how much SDRC spent on insurance for the SSA.
Councillor Cameron Gow stated that his understanding from the report is that no organisation in the region is treated exactly the same as they are all different.
He stated that SDRC has helped to facilitate a large grant for Stanthorpe Library and Art Gallery, and should always consider a case made by organisations for help they may need.
Some debate was had over why certain figures were included in the report, with staff clarifying while some money given to organisations was technically federal money SDRC had facilitated their getting the grant.
Councillor Windle questioned why all organisations did not have their insurance paid, to which a staff member clarified that this may come down to who owns the asset.
Councillor Gale stated that he believes in equity for all community organisations.
He stated that SDRC should endeavour to do what they can to meet the needs of community organisations.
He stated that giving people identical support would not generate the same outcome.
“The outcome is important, not the input,” he stated.
Councillor McNally spoke against the amendments, and said she did not believe it to be equitable.
“Are they wants or needs?”
She stated it’s not fair to other organisations in the community or to the ratepayers, and she did not believe it to be equitable either.
Councillor Bartley spoke to the amendments, stating to his knowledge SDRC was normally consolatory to sporting organisations because of the benefits they bring to the community.
He stated SDRC had generally assisted these organisations in the past.
Councillor McDonald stated she supports sports, but “we need to be careful with equitable distribution of our services”.
She stated they need to ensure those services are utilised just as well elsewhere, and that SDRC can’t be seen to be favouring or biased to one area of the region.
She stated she would not be supporting the amendments, and instead wanted to see SDRC gradually close the gap between SSA and other sporting organisations.
She said she would like to see the assistance reduced back slowly, so the organisation is brought back to where other sporting organisations are at.
Councillor McNally stated she would prefer SSA’s benefits be phased out as well.
She stated she did not approve of SDRC being locked into these conditions for this period, and that she wanted certain conditions outlined prior to the signing of the lease rather than them being negotiated after by the CEO.
“It’s never just been about mowing the field,” she stated.
Councillor Bartley stated he had faith in the CEO.
“We have to have faith in our community,” he said.
He stated he believed SDRC should foster sport in the community.
While the organisation was asking for extra, he stated that the extra funds were going to the community where they belonged.
Councillor Windle questioned how SDRC would sustain this financially after other organisations requested similar assistance.
“We don’t even have a figure to tell us how much it’s going to cost,” she stated.
Councillor Gliori stated that during the election, his response to SSA regarding their lease was not as simple as yes or no.
He stated that while initially he has wanted a new library and art gallery in Stanthorpe, and new Saleyards in Warwick, the budget would not allow it.
He referenced the shortening of hours at the Allora waste center due to it being a convenience rather than a service.
He stated he believed this issue was the same; a convenience rather than a service.
He would rather support a phase out of assistance, he stated.
“Let’s empower them by phasing them out to independence.”
The Mayor stated that “we’ve set out to do some UDFs and they are different and reflect those passions and those…the direction that particular community’s wishes to take their special place.“
He stated we are not all the same, and we all need different needs.
This is an investment into the livability, he stated.
He said that he liked this lease as it requires them to engage with the community and would have a positive impact.
Councillor McNally requested an amendment regarding the costs of maintenance.
Councillor Gow suggested an extension of the holding over period so the CEO could report back at the next SDRC meeting prior to the lease being signed.
“Ratepayers deserve to know how much this will cost them,” Councillor McNally stated.
This amendment was moved successfully.
Councillor Gale gave his final thoughts on the overall motion, stating while he resides in Warwick he is a representative of the whole region and not just Warwick.
The motion was carried, with Councillors Gale, Gow, Bartley, and the Mayor voting for it while the remaining Councillors voted against it.
The Mayor was required to use his deciding vote for both the initial amendment and the final vote.